Pop-up city park

How do you let urbanites rediscover an unloved square?

The challenge

Despite nestling at the foot of the Laurenskerk, in the heart of Rotterdam, the Grotekerkplein had become an unappealing, neglected city square. Hardly surprising, since the square was little more than bare, uninviting stone. Our initiative to transform the square into an attractive city oasis coincided with the local council’s decision to transform it into an urban park. Work began at the end of 2015. We saw an opportunity for co-creation and participation and, together with Stichting Stadspodium, developed a pop-up urban park.

Our approach

Rotterdammers are famous for their hard-working mentality, so we invited them to brainstorm about their future city park, and get involved immediately. We drew inspiration from places like Bryant Park in New York – in the middle of the city centre, the size of a postage stamp, but with a cosmopolitan feel and an international vibe.

We scheduled the physical work to go hand in hand with small-scale park programming, and with the campaign. From pick nick tables to an inviting little lawn, and from tai-chi to knitting.

We found enthusiastic partners like Bureau Binnenstad, and Citylab010. The campaign included a new form of signing, an engaging website, a lively Facebook page and excellent visibility in the media.

The outcome

The result was a modern urban park that brings true value to the people of Rotterdam. A public survey we carried out with R2Research, revealed that the pop-up urban park has reconnected local people with the Grotekerkplein, transforming it into a much-loved public space. They also provided actionable input on what they’d like to see in their future city park.